Friday, September 5, 2014

Family, like fish, are only good for three days

I just booked a trip to Ohio for my niece Maggie’s upcoming wedding. It’s a real circle-of-life moment for me, seeing that Maggie was our flower girl at our wedding 22 years ago.

I’m hoping it will be a fabulous visit. It has to be better than our visit four years ago.

How could it possibly be worse?

The hosts in this case were my sister Peg and my brother-in-law Jeff, parents to the bride-to-be Maggie. They are lovely people with, as you’ll see, amazing patience for me and my brood. It was just me and the kids (hubby had to work) so I assumed it would be no big deal, right?


The first incident occurred within minutes of my arrival. I took my suitcase up to the guest room to unpack. I went over to open the shades and they collapsed on my head. As I balance them above my head, trying to re-insert the ends into the hardware, the curtain rod fell down as well. I tried my best to replace the shades but later in the night the whole contraption fell again.

Our second night there we made popcorn, caught fireflies and watched a movie with the kids. Someone (the jury’s still out on who) put the popcorn kernels down the drain, causing the garbage disposal to emit a groan that was not unlike a dying seal. I found Jeff at the sink, his arm in the disposal up to his elbow, pulling them out one handful at a time.

On day three I thought I would redeem our family name by running out to the store to stock up on some grocery items. I was borrowing my niece Maggie’s car during our trip, and when I started to back up out of the driveway I slammed into something. I looked out the window just in time to see the back hubcap rolling in the yard. Upon closer inspection I realized that I had struck the basketball hoop’s post.

Later that day I overheard Jeff say to Peg, “Our ice maker in the freezer is broken.”

“I wasn’t anywhere near the thing,” I yelled across the room, exasperated by the carnage that was piling up, seemingly as a result of my family’s presence.

Then Lily and her cousin were playing in the garage and decided to pull the garage door rope down, disengaging the automatic door opener, thereby trapping Jeff’s car inside until we figured out what had happened. At this point, I was ready to call the airline and get us on an earlier flight home.

Instead, I decided to do a load of laundry and ended up accidentally washing Nathaniel’s iPod among a load of darks. I immediately put it in a bag of rice since that had worked for my cell phone a couple of months ago. Jeff looked skeptically at the bag, and asked, “What happened here?”

I assured him that this would work, as it had before, and he said, “Yeah, but you dropped your cell phone for a moment in the toilet. The iPod rattled around in water for an hour.” Sad but true, Jeff was right and the iPod died that night in Ohio, alone in its rice tomb.

On day four, the last day of our visit, Peg asked Jeff, “Do you think it’s a Burmeister curse?”

“No, because they’ve stayed here before,” answered Jeff. “But then again, they’ve never stayed this long…”

“You know, I can hear you guys,” I reminded them, sitting across the table, a mere inches from this discussion.

So here we are, four years later. I can only imagine the conversations Peg and Jeff are having anticipating our arrival …

Eileen Burmeister is a freelance writer who lives and works in Winchester. You can reach her at or follow her on Twitter at EBurmeister.

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